The Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna and the Wiener Singverein will take the place of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and the CBSO Chorus.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the CBSO Chorus have been forced to cancel their participation in the opening concert of this year’s Ouverture spirituelle on Sunday, 18 July, due to mandatory quarantine upon their return. To our delight, within an extremely short period of time the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra has contacted its members throughout Europe, assembling 91 musicians from 18 countries for the project. In order to muster the large forces required by the main work of the evening, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna immediately agreed to cooperate with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, enabling 13 orchestra members to participate in this project, a lynchpin of the Festival’s centenary. The Festival would like to thank these two long-standing partners for their extraordinary effort in making this possible. Special thanks are also due to the Wiener Singverein. Despite the vacation season, it immediately assured us of its support. Thanks to many members of the Wiener Singverein cancelling or postponing their vacations, the chorus will perform with more than 100 of its members. After her orchestra from Birmingham cancelled, the conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla immediately agreed to work with the Festival on finding a new cast and will conduct the concert. For this, the Festival is profoundly grateful to the winner of its 2012 Young Conductors Award.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at the rebuilt Cathedral in Coventry in 1962. The Festival therefore deeply regrets that the CBSO is unable to travel to Salzburg. However, the fact that musicians from all over Europe will perform this work instead sends a strong message, very much in keeping with the founding idea of the Salzburg Festival as a European peace project.

The new constellation has occasioned a minor change of programme: instead of Friede auf Erden by Arnold Schoenberg, the choral cantata Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich by Felix Mendelssohn will be performed before the War Requiem.

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